Time to Get Ready: Resistance Through My Lens

Educator, organiser and activist Maria Varela explores her work during the Civil Rights Movement, focussing particularly on her photographic archive. In discussing her images, Maria reflects on narratives of the Civil Rights Movement and how her photographs and experiences challenge that memory.

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: please sign up here.

This talk is part of the event programming for the exhibition, Time to Get Ready: Maria Varela and the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1963, Maria Varela travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as an office worker. However, within three weeks she was assigned to work in dangerous Selma, Alabama as a literacy program worker.  For the next four and a half years, Varela would work as an educator, organiser, and writer in the deep South. It was not until 1966 that, dissatisfied with representations of Black people in the Movement, Varela would pick up a camera. Through her lens, she captured images of marches, speeches, and protests. But primarily she captured the hard work that went into sustaining the everyday organizing to build the Movement from the bottom up – including voter drives, vegetable co-operatives, and community activism around jobs, education, housing and segregation of public institutions.  From events such as the Meredith March Against Fear, to profiling leaders such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Varela’s photography offers an important perspective on one of the most significant periods of reckoning in American history.

Maria Varela’s photography will be exhibited at The Barn Gallery, St John’s College (22 St Giles') from Monday 29 April to Saturday 18 May 2024. There will be an opening wine reception at The Barn Gallery on 29 April.

This exhibition is generously supported by: St John’s College, the Rothermere American Institute, Christ Church College, the British Association of American Studies, the Oxford Festival of the Arts, and the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Read more about Maria Varela here.

Children framed by sharp-shooter, by Maria Varela